Swimmers relocate after Pulliam pool closure

A month after it closed, those who swam at Pulliam pool are still adjusting to life without it.

The Pulliam pool closed its doors last month after nearly 50 years of operation. It will be remodeled to make space for the art and design, architecture and social work programs because administrators said the pool was too old and too costly to maintain.

The closure left the pool’s users searching for a new place to swim, and the transition hasn’t been easy for some.

The Saluki Swim Club, a year-round club for young swimmers, used the Pulliam pool for its swim practices. When Pulliam closed, the team was forced to relocate to the Recreation Center.

Saluki Swim Club head coach Jay Newton said his team liked Pulliam because it had two pools, and one was smaller and good for his team’s younger swimmers to learn in. The Recreation Center, however, only features one Olympic-sized pool that is much deeper.

Newton said one challenge will be to find a comfort level for the younger swimmers at the Recreation Center.

Swimmers in the Saluki Swim Club interact Tuesday during the first swim lessons at the Recreation Center after relocating from Pulliam Pool, which closed August 8. Laura Herzog, of Pomona, said she was skeptical about bringing her two children to the center for lessons at first because the larger locker room is a bigger challenge with kids. “The relocation has actually become a benefit,” Herzog said. “I can coordinate the swim lessons and use my Recreation Center pass, giving me 45 minutes to work out instead of sitting around at Pulliam with no air conditioning.”
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“It’s obviously a much bigger, more intimidating place than what Pulliam was for them,” he said.

Newton also said the pool at the Recreation Center is much colder than the one at Pulliam, and the team has to adjust to sharing the Recreation Center’s pool with all of the other groups that use it.

“Adjusting to the new conditions at the rec center will be our biggest hardship to overcome,” he said. “We are all sharing a big pool now and it definitely gets a little more crowded, and we have a few less lanes than we used to. But we will make do with it.”

Before the move, Newton said only one of the Saluki Swim Club’s five groups met at the Recreation Center. All other events and lessons took place in the Pulliam pool.

He said he was disappointed when he found out Pulliam pool was going to be closed becuase it had some unique things that can’t be replaced.

However, he said the decision to close the pool wasn’t a total shock.

“I’ve been here since 2008, and we’ve known that the pool was very old and difficult to fix,” he said. “We knew it would close one day. We just didn’t know when. When it finally got here, we were like everybody else, ‘Wow, is it finally going to happen?’”

The move was initially faced with some uncertainty and concerns, but the club began using its new pool Tuesday and Newton said the move has gone well so far. He said the kids are adjusting to the new pool, and the Recreation Center has helped the transition go smoothly.

“This is a wonderful facility,” he said. “It’s a beautiful pool and there are a lot of positive things that come with us using the rec center. In the end, we hated to see Pulliam go, but we are all making the best out of it.”

Lily Boruszkowski, a retired professor in the cinema and photography department, said she used the Pulliam pool at least three days a week and is now searching for a place to swim.

She said she will try swimming at John A. Logan College, but she will not use the Recreation Center’s pool because it is too noisy and not relaxing.

“They will be poor replacements,” she said. “If you went to Pulliam, there could be multiple people in each lane and still hardly a ripple in the pool. We were all quiet, calm swimmers.”

Boruszkowski said she thinks the pool should have been maintained.

“It was a resource that was a gem, and we will never get a replacement,” she said. “It’s just a waste and a shame.”

Gary Shepherd, a senior library specialist who used the Pulliam pool twice a week, said he was extremely upset when he learned the pool was closing and still, months later, is not happy.

“I feel that the university administration totally ignored the needs of the large number of people who used Pulliam Pool, and refused to listen to any of our complaints,” he said. “More than 40 years after the rec center pool opened, people were still using Pulliam pool regularly, which indicates to me that it has performed an important service for people.”

Shepherd said he doesn’t plan to swim at the Recreation Center because it is too far from where he works in the library.

He also said he isn’t interested in buying a semester pass to the Recreation Center, which would require him to pay for all of the facilities when he only wants to swim.

He said he would have rather spent money to save the Pulliam pool.

“It is a shame that, given all the brain power there is at this university, we could not find a more equitable, win-win solution to this problem,” Shepherd said. “I maintain that destroying Pulliam Pool is a mistake, and the university will come to regret it in the future.”

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